Compared to the Nikon D1x (contd.)

ISO Sensitivity / Noise levels

As with the previous noise comparison between the EOS-D30 and D60 we simply shoot a colour patch chart (a GretagMacBeth ColorChecker) at the full range of ISO sensitivities. These set of tests were carried out in normal light levels (10.6 EV).

Each of the comparison crops below are made up of a 90 x 80 crop of patches 19, 22 and 24 of the ColorChcker chart (as indicated above). This helps to give a better impression of noise at different light levels within an image. Directly below this you will find the average standard deviation of these three patches, this is a quantifiable measurement of noise.

Test Notes

  • Measurements were taken at normal room temperature of 21°C (~70°F), you should expect noise to reduce in lower temperatures and increase in higher temperatures.
  • Performance comparison carried out in RAW mode to remove the effects of JPEG artifacts skewing the higher ISO results. RAW images were converted to 8-bit TIFF's using Canon RAW Image Converter v2.0 (default settings) and Nikon Capture 2.0 (default settings).
  • Camera settings were defaulted before tests carried out (thus default parameters, sharpening etc.). The visibility of noise will be reduced by decreasing sharpening.
  • The 'standard deviation' was measured using the histogram feature in Photoshop on 8-bit TIFF or JPEG files (later comparison). Lower figures mean there is less 'deviation' from the average luminance level, and thus less noise.
  • The D1x's lowest sensitivity is ISO 125, so bear this in mind when looking at the first crop. The D1x's highest normal sensitivity is ISO 800 although it can be boosted to ISO 1600 or 3200 via a custom function.

Performance of Nikon D1x vs. EOS-D60 vs. in normal light

 Camera Nikon D1x Canon EOS-D60
 Sensitivity ISO 125 ISO 100
 Exposure 1/13 s, F9.0 1/10, F9.0
 Patch crops
 ISO 125 / 100
Standard dev. avg. 1.21 0.64
 Camera Nikon D1x Canon EOS-D60
 Sensitivity ISO 200 ISO 200
 Exposure 1/20 s, F9.0 1/20, F9.0
 Patch crops
 ISO 200
Standard dev. avg. 1.40 0.94
 Camera Nikon D1x Canon EOS-D60
 Sensitivity ISO 400 ISO 400
 Exposure 1/40 s, F9.0 1/40, F9.0
 Patch crops
 ISO 400
Standard dev. avg. 1.97 1.37
 Camera Nikon D1x Canon EOS-D60
 Sensitivity ISO 800 ISO 800
 Exposure 1/80 s, F9.0 1/80, F9.0
 Patch crops
 ISO 800
Standard dev. avg. 3.00 2.30

As you can clearly see Canon's CMOS sensor technology appears work very well at keeping noise levels low. Looking at the graph below you can see that the two noise curves are almost identical in shape (they're both roughly exponential) but that the D60 always has an approximately 30% lower standard deviation average.